In order to better understand the context of the content of this post, make sure you go back and read the previous post on Ephesians 4:11.
4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Notice how that there are three (3) times the word “for” is used in verse 12. Notice how that each one precedes something that the above gifts from Christ to the church were to accomplish. Christ gave unto the Church, and not all at the same time, “some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors” (v. 11). It was the giving of the gifts and the working out of those gifts that the three objectives would be accomplished, including in the order in which they are mentioned. Let us now examine the following three prepositional phrases.
- For the perfecting of the saints
Before the work of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ can reach its potential, the saints (saved believers) must be “perfected.” This does not mean that Christians must be perfect before God can use them. No, when Paul wrote about the perfecting of the saints, he used the Greek word καταρτισμός (katartismos G2677) which means to make someone completely adequate or sufficient for something, or completely equipped for a particular good work.
The gifts given by Christ – Apostles, Evangelists, Prophets, Pastors, and Teachers – equip us, train us, and encourage us.
- For the work of the ministry
Once the saints (the Christians) are fully equipped for the work of the ministry, it is then necessary that they exercise their own gifts and demonstrate with good works the effectiveness of their equipping. Unfortunately, too many Christians have been taught and equipped, given everything need for good works, and yet have never done one thing outside of self-edification. But that is not the purpose for their equipping! The purpose for their equipping is to edify the Body, not one lone member.
- For the edifying of the body of Christ
Edifying is the act of building something up. As the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers equip us, we are to use what we have been given to encourage, teach, and generally contribute to the overall health of the Church.
 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 679.